Last week I received an e-copy of the General Conference BRI Newsletter (April Edition, 2012) and an e-copy of the Leadership Development Journal of the Trans-European Division of the General conference (April Edition, 2012). I must say that, after reading both, I have now taken a different view to the Sabbath dilemma in Samoa.
In short, circumstances surrounding the Samoa Sabbath dilemma have come together in such a way that this is a “greater awakening and shaking time” for Seventh-day Adventists in Samoa, the Pacific region and the worldwide church. God will watch out for His own who are going through the Refiner’s fire.
Last week I received more discouraging news from Samoa, of how the ‘majority’ of SDAs are settling into the convenience of Sunday keeping, making business and social activities on the 7th-day Sabbath a norm — including many of my family members.
Another sad reality is the fact that, the longer the SPD and STM Sunday Keeping Edict is allowed by the General Conference to continue without any decisive action, the more SDAs in Samoa are now joining the Samoa Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church (SISDAC), a breakaway organisation from the mother church. Unfortunately, it’s the practical option for most, at least to worship with others who are faithful in keeping the 7th-day Sabbath.
For the ‘minority’ SDA Sabbath Keepers in Samoa, and those who are promoting the need to revert to true Sabbath keeping in Samoa, the experience has brought a renewal of personal relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath. So it is with all who set to work for God.
This brings me to the point about discipleship. If we try to receive from Christ without passing it on, we die spiritually. Those who stop working, die spiritually. It’s the difference between a fresh-water lake and the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea only receives water. All fresh-water lakes receive to give — they have water flowing in and out. This needs to be actively taught to every believer — and every new member of the Sabbath Keepers Network.
As the dust settles, with the Samoa Sabbath dilemma, the need now is for the SDA Sabbath Keepers in Samoa to become “disciples” and not “consumers.” This requires the empowering of our current members to take the next step in our conviction; part of following Christ is obedience to the call to go out, including Pa’u, and make disciples of other people (Mt 28:18-20). I believe this will be the measure of true Sabbath keeping in Samoa.
Ellen White wrote about the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well:
“As soon as she had found the Saviour the Samaritan woman brought others to Him. She proved herself a more effective missionary than His own disciples. The disciples saw nothing in Samaria to indicate that it was an encouraging field. Their thoughts were fixed upon a great work to be done in the future. They did not see that right around them was a harvest to be gathered. But through the woman whom they despised, a whole cityful were brought to hear the Saviour. She carried the light at once to her countrymen.
“This woman represents the working of a practical faith in Christ. Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life.” (Desire of Ages, p. 195)
In the Leadership Development Journal (April 2012), there is a book review on Leighton Ford’s Transforming Leadership. It points to the 10 aspects of Jesus as a ‘transformational’ leader:
- The Leader as Son: Jesus knew who he was – he had a quiet sense of confidence that grew from his relationship with the Father.
- The Leader as Strategist: Jesus knew where he was going – he had a strong sense of purpose.
- The Leader as Seeker: Jesus had his own standard of success – he stood for the values of the kingdom.
- The Leader as Seer: Jesus saw things clearly – he had a steady vision.
- The Leader as Strong One: Jesus showed strength of character – he had the moral authority to move others.
- The Leader as Servant: Jesus knew the price of leadership – he was willing to give himself.
- The Leader as Shepherd Maker: Jesus had a strategy to develop leaders – he aimed to reproduce himself in them.
- The Leader as Spokesperson: Jesus knew the importance of communication – he could articulate his vision.
- The Leader as Struggler: Jesus was prepared to face conflict – he was gracious, courageous and wise.
- The Leader as Sustainer: Jesus made provision to keep the movement going – he was committed to the future.
The special feature article “It does not affect me” and other myths about Religious Persecution in the General Conference BRI Newsletter (April Edition 2012) the author John Graz writes.
“Persecution is part of the whole Christian package, in much the same way that illness and death are part of our human heritage. It is a reality we cannot avoid – it is an evitable by-product of the great cosmic conflict between God and the enemy of truth. The apostle Paul wrote that ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12)
“Jesus said to His disciples: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kind of evil against you because of me (Matt 5:11). What is the antithesis of religious freedom? The answer is ‘religious persecution’. While religious freedom is a gift of God, a mark of His great love for humanity, persecution bears the signature of the Devil.
“The unspoken thought seems to be, ‘Why is this relevant to me? Persecution belongs to a time and place far removed from where I live today. Perhaps persecution lies somewhere in the future, we tell ourselves.”
This is so true of the view being promoted by the Samoa Tokelau Mission and supported by some Samoans overseas arguing the Sabbath issue in Samoa should not involve the worldwide church and Samoans overseas. Let me remind everyone that the Sabbath issue is a core doctrine of the SDA faith, not just for Samoa or Tonga, which makes it a worldwide issue.
According to Samoan Pastor Eddie Erika, “Culturally, Samoans are taught from their childhood to respect leaders. An admirable character trait that is intrinsically etched in the psyche of a Samoan. Those who take the risk to think “outside the block,” if they are unsuccessful are mocked and disgracefully ridiculed.”
In Samoa today, persecution is real. More alarming is that Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath Keepers are being persecuted by SDA Sunday Keepers. Remember the story of Sepulona and Fuatia Hugo of Samatau? However, it also reminds me of Luke 14:27, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
A second article in the BRI April issue is titled ‘Revelation’s Perspective on Persecution’ by Ekkehardt Mueller who writes.
“Those of us who do not experience persecution by non-Christians or Christians may overlook the pervasive theme of persecution in John’s Apocalypse or reserve it for the last segment of earth’s history only. Yet such short sightedness may also prevent us from understanding and supporting suffering brothers and sisters today.”
One of the points that stood out for me is this article is under the heading “Persecution will be trigger by the rejection of loyalty to human institutions.” Can this be the case in Samoa today with the Sabbath dilemma and the STM and SPD directive?
(Adapted from SKN Newsletter #11)